Paddle4Play: July 2013

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Old Town Paddle

While we were in Croatia we were invited on another paddle with the lads from Outdoor Croatia this time an afternoon /evening paddle to miss the mid day sun and enjoy the red sunset from the sea,

We met the lads at their office in the port where we hopped in the van to load up boats from their mainland hideaway,


We launched onto the inland estuary with Marko as our guide, paddling upstream to meet the river and the top of the tidal stretch from here we were shown the Bosnian boarder and some of the key vantage points from the war, as well as the old water station which supplied Dubrovnik's water until it was damaged during the war,

Its hard to believe this Country and in fact this region was involved in war during our lifetimes and the lifetimes of many still living in the area.GOPR1583

We continued along the river out towards the sea. Passing by roads and villages and boats on our way to the new bridge, a large suspension bridge which crosses the estuary spanning just over 500m and save 45 minutes of driving along the old road now takes less than a minute. As you pass under the bridge the Gruz Harbour is to the left and here you will find cruise ships lined up with day passengers flocking to the streets if Dubrovnik's old town, each ship carries between 2000-4000 passengers plus crew which offer a huge passing trade to local businesses,


We passed the entrance to the port as we skirted around the new inflatable water park and onto the Lapad coastline, this area is heavily populated by tourists with about 15 hotels in a small stretch next door to one another all hugging the rocky beaches offering swimming and watersports from their front door, we headed past the hotels and made for a small rocky outcrop which housed a lighthouse building and some interesting rock slots to paddle through, as we weaved our way through the gaps we headed back for the main coastline, looking up at the towering cliffs above with no access we had left the busy hotels behind for quiet tranquil paddling before we hear the slapping and bouncing of a pair of jet skis flying by.


The coastline is full of boats weather it be small fishing boats, fun pleasure boats, yachts or multi million cruisers the Adriatic has it all and because of it warm climate and no tides if you have money you can have a big boat and sail with little experience, luckily many of these people never take their boats anywhere the water actually move and has tides,


We continued across the bay heading for a locals beach and beach bar where we tied up for a cool beer and a quick dip, with the beach crowded with locals, sunbathing, or huddled around playing cards it was a nice stop off for a dip in the cool blue to stretch the legs before rounding the head for the old town,GOPR1623

As we passed the corner with the city's walls high above our heads we cut into the below the pile gate for a photo opportunity, we rounded the Old Town of Dubrovnik taking in the spectacular view of the old walls, earlier in the week we had taken a walk on the walls to look out to see this time we were paddling from the bottom looking up, as we passed cafes some were swimming from the rocks others fishing all relaxing in the evening sun, we took a turn and headed for the island of Locrum Just off the Dubrovnik coast another magnificent island with much more greenery than some of the others, full of trees. On the backside of the island we found more people fishing looking for their dinner, many had climbed down the cliffs and rocks to find their own secluded spot, as we came to another large sea cavern we were passed by a rival outdoor company paddling around the island on double sit in tops struggling to move as we glided onwards in our 16ft6 Capellas making the job look easy having already paddled 15km plus where these guys had done less than 2km.


As we rounded the corner we were greeted by a sunset view of Dubrovnik's old town a perfect end to the paddle, one of the most beautiful city's silhouetted in one of the most beautiful sunsets, reds and oranges of the evening sky passing behind the hills behind,


As we paddled back into the Old town we were greeted once again by Vedran with the van where we loaded up before heading back to their apartment for some dinner, we were greeted by Johnny who had been busy rearranging the fridge for the beer, that evening we chilled out on the terrace drinking Slovenian beer (Croation beer is terrible as Jonny put it like sex in a kayak - Fu**ing close to water!) and a  feast of meats and salads, long into the night.


Thanks to all the guys at Outdoor Croatia, Vedran, Marko and Johnny you were fantastic hosts and will be travelling back again soon for more adventures,

For more information on sea kayaking in Croatia as well as other activities on offer check out OUTDOOR CROATIA




They are genuinely nice people and always happy to give the best advice on planning trips away.


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Croatia Sea and rocks, and rocks and sea

Having spent much of my younger years around the sea, whether it be in the playboat getting eaten in the dumping waves or paddling europas and dancers miles and miles on sea kayak trips around the Solent.

At some point probably when I went to college I found out their was more to paddling than the sea, exploring rivers and creeks for the first time but always going back to the sea like a first romance.

Sound romantic, except most paddling in the UK involves gale force winds usually offshore and tidal races and just big nasty waves that want to eat you and your Sea Kayak, Obivously their are some beautiful days too,G0010941

Having paddled and expeditioned around various parts of the UK, Ireland, Channel Irelands and North Coast of France I'm fairly confident in big Atlantic rollers and deep tug ship troughs,

This summer I decided to go somewhere different, having already spent two weeks creeking and much of my previous few trips have been in the freestyle boat.

This time I was in search of Sun, Sea, Ice Cream and of course paddling.

So after a look at the map and some suggestions it was decided that Croatia was the destination.

More specifically, Dubrovnik, The  pearl of the Adriatic, and home to Outdoor Croatia. A new company set up for 2013 by two well experienced guys who have been working for other providers over the past decade have taken what they know and started their own venture to improve on what others are doing. Both Vedran and Marco are ex competitive International high performance paddlers from slalom and sprint.


We were greeted at our apartment by their instructor / guide, The Ice cream loving, Johnny. another former competitive slalom paddler, a lad full of knowledge and very friendly and helpful.

We boarded the passenger ferry for a trip out to the Island of Lopud, where their main base is.

On arrival we were taken to the base, with a racked fleet of new shiny Venture Kayaks, capellas and Easky 15s as well as Prijon Doubles. With Lendal Paddles and Palm equipment their was no need for me to bring anything, the kit is as good as it gets.


Before I go any further I must mention that the weather is a scorching 36 degrees and the sea beautiful blue and flat.

Yep its flat the only waves are from passing boats the tidal range here is limited as in not a lot.

Having recently been paddling the Hammer from P&H on Irelands West coast the playboat of the sea was definitely a little over the top for these conditions, the biggest risk out here was the sun so rash vests, hats and sunglasses were a must.

We set off as a small group of 4 on the popular Caves and Arches Tour
Myself, Cassie plus Frenzi and Patrick from Germany who were complete beginners with Johnny our guide.


We set off from Lopud into the bay where Johnny taught some basic strokes, paddling forwards and turning the kayak as well as stopping the boat, all of the Easkys and Capellas have a drop down skeg to help the boat track while the Prijon doubles are fitted with rudders to make life easy,


heading for the Island of Sipan we hit the open water looking out as far as we could see with nothing but the wide blue Adriatic Sea an amazing sight we soon hit the island where we found a big 25m natural archway before Johnny led us up the cliff to one of his favourite jumping spots, we let him take this one himself as it was a little too high for us.GOPR0708

We got back into the boats after the arch photos we headed for the next stop, a short paddle around the headland and we were at the underwater Green cave. A beautiful spot and without a guide would go unnoticed as you leave the boats behind and don the snorkel and mask before diving down and into a cavern the size of a small van plenty of space for the whole group even a dog on another tour.


Inside looks like a darkened room but as you turn towards the entrance the sight is just spectacular as the sun reflects through the water and off of the sandy bottom it turns the entrance bluey/green and silhouettes anything in front. Absolutely amazing.


Outside the cave and the bay us perfect spot for a swim and snorkel with lots of small fish to be seen in the glimmering sun,


The water is clear and the visibility just goes on and on,

After some more cliff jumping outside the cave we headed back into the boats and around the peninsular  for a well deserved lunch at a lovely restaurant, In the village of Surdurad with a bit of time for a stroll around the area before packing up and heading for the third island of the tour. The rocky outcrop had another hidden surprise a large cavern on one side of the island with a hole in the roof, some say this was part of the war and a bomb was dropped in the wrong place, others say erosion, we just looked at the scale of power which was needed to create the opening.


Onwards we paddled heading back for our starting point in Lopud where we took out and packed up before a goodbye from Johnny and time for scoops of Ice Cream before boarding the ferry for the hour ride back to Dubrovnik. Sitting on the front deck with cheeky beers with Marko chatting about the days adventures a perfect cooling down period before being picked up by Vedran in the van to shuttle back to our apartments.


This was my first time paddling in Croatia and as the lads say "Croatia is sea and rocks, and rocks and sea!" they were definitely right but what they didn't mention, these are some of the most amazing rock formations and from the sea you can get up close and see every detail in the landscape and texture.


For more information on sea kayaking in Croatia as well as other activities on offer check out OUTDOOR CROATIA


They are genuinely nice people and always happy to give the best advice on planning trips away.


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